Questions Answered by Richard Sternberg

Q: What happens if one of the witnesses to a holographic will dies before the person who wrote the will?

2 Answers | Asked in Probate for Virginia on
Answered on Jan 16, 2019
Richard Sternberg's answer
If it was executed correctly, it's a self-proving will signed by two or three witnesses before a notary public, and it is no problem at all. If the testator went the lawyer-free way, Virginia Code § 64.2-403(B) provides that: "A will wholly in the testator's handwriting is valid without further requirements, provided that the fact that a will is wholly in the testator's handwriting and signed by the testator is proved by at least two disinterested witnesses." So, if the will cannot be proved...

Q: Can heirs of an original owner claim a portion of land which was reserved from a deed conveying the balance of the land?

1 Answer | Asked in Land Use & Zoning and Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Answered on Jan 15, 2019
Richard Sternberg's answer
Of course, the heirs can claim title. In most circumstances, I would then reiterate the teachings of a professor of mine from Penn, and I'd say that any idiot can make a claim if they have a pen, paper, and the filing fee. Usually, prospective clients want to know if they can win, and can be a different question. In this case, however, making the claim may be quite effective, particularly if the objective is to ensure that the respect due to a family gravesite is protected. The chances of being...

Q: When putting in an offer on a home as the buyer is it my responsibility to give a dollar amount for closing costs in Va

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Answered on Jan 14, 2019
Richard Sternberg's answer
No, your offer should simply describe your offer in sufficient detail to be unambiguous. The allocation of closing costs is adequately described in every standard local or state contract form I have seen, though there are often other provisions that should be changed, such as extraordinary protections of the realtors providing the form.

Q: In Maryland, our mother died intestate. My brother and I are co-representative of estate. How to resolve disagreement ?

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Answered on Jan 10, 2019
Richard Sternberg's answer
Get counsel. File petition to list and sell house in the form of Sale in Lieu of Partition.

Q: I am a trustee on a property that's in pre foreclosure. I would like to buy the home. Trust doc says we can buy and sell

2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law, Foreclosure and Probate for Maryland on
Answered on Dec 28, 2018
Richard Sternberg's answer
Your facts are dripping in self-dealing and breach of fiduciary duties, and the claim that one trustee stole funds while the other stole the property are just oozing from your question. The notion that trust instructions give you the power to buy and sell does not mean that you can buy and sell to your own account. You *desperately* need to review the facts privately with a lawyer, and you are flat out nuts if you provide any more facts on an open web forum.

Q: I rent a apartment in Norfolk, VA. My lease is up Feb 28, 2018.

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Answered on Dec 27, 2018
Richard Sternberg's answer
Virginia courts are most likely to enforce leases exactly as they are written. You may, however, need to defend your position in court, and that may cost more than the amount in dispute. Most of the cases before the judge will have little or no defense, and there will be a large number of cases, so it will be incumbent on you to stand out from the crowd. The best way to accomplish this is to be prepared with a lawyer at the hearing with your arguments and evidence ready to go. If you are going...

Q: Can a Lien be placed if insurance company paid for services. The only outstanding amount is the copay.

1 Answer | Asked in Civil Litigation and Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Answered on Dec 27, 2018
Richard Sternberg's answer
Liens can be complicated, and lay people often misunderstand them. If you are asking whether you can be obligated in a lien to pay a judgment or some other debt that authorizes a lien on something specific, the answer is yes. There is no way to evaluate whether a lien has been perfected from the information you provided.

Q: If my lease is up on January 26th and the rental office has not sent a renewal notice to me, do I have to pay February

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Answered on Dec 26, 2018
Richard Sternberg's answer
The answer depends on what the lease says as to whether you can depart the lease on January 26th with no further obligations. If you are asking whether you may stay as a free permanent guest of the landlord because he fails to produce a renewal timely, that also depends on the lease, but it is rather unlikely.

Q: Can attorney represent trust & mortgage servicer.Does servicer respond to summons or can trustee answer both summon com

3 Answers | Asked in Civil Litigation and Legal Malpractice for Maryland on
Answered on Dec 17, 2018
Richard Sternberg's answer
It depends on whether the defendants have a potential or actual conflict of interest, which most often arises if their positions are contradictory, such as where one of them wants you to lose and the other wants you to win or when one impleads for damages from the other for your claims. If you think you are going to take on U.S. Bank and Ocwen simultaneously pro se, you must be planning to lose, right? Do I guess correctly that this is a foreclosure defense, and both Ocwen and US Bank seek to...

Q: The sellers agent asked my agent our ethnicity and then stated that we “Latinos” don’t ever do anything right.

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Answered on Dec 16, 2018
Richard Sternberg's answer
Sounds like a fairly clear housing discrimination case. The good news is that a prompt strategy of asserting a lis pendens and filing the proper complaint may get you your new home, and there may ultimately be an award of legal fees. The bad news is that few of the lawyers qualified to pursue such claims are willing to take them based on a future attorneys fees award. The best strategy is a quick demand letter before there is another contract on the property, but that will require quick action...

Q: Can a Veteran buyer and his lender decline or refuse a sellers right to a Reconsideration of Value?

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Answered on Dec 13, 2018
Richard Sternberg's answer
You really need a competent review of the contract. Based on your limited information, I’m guessing that then lender doesn’t agree with you ROV and that you probably have the right to reject the buyer and get a full price non-VA buyer. Backing out of the contract without legal review is quite risky.

Q: I have a pending real estate transaction that involves a listing agent who's refusing to split the commission. Advice?

2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for District of Columbia on
Answered on Dec 11, 2018
Richard Sternberg's answer
If you are both members of the National Association of Realtors, GCAAR (and/or MAR) and the MRIS, there is a mandatory arbitration system maintained by either GCAAR, MAR, or MRIS. That might be useful, or you might get a lawyer involved early on in the hopes that, by communications with the responsible broker rather than the sales agent, you can get to a reasonable position.

Q: Home under appraised by 25k. Is the listing agent at any fault?

2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Answered on Dec 5, 2018
Richard Sternberg's answer
The fact that you had an offer three days later at full price is evidence that the appraiser, not the realtor, is wrong. The problem is that so many fraudulent price-fixing offers occurred in both the real estate banking crisis around 1989 and – quite a bit more severely -- in 2008 that the law added all sorts of independence and distance in appraisal standards. But, "market value" is determined by how the market values the property, and in quick upswings, which we seem to be experiencing in...

Q: My friend owns 2/3rds of a house and wants to sell. Does she need to get permission from the 1/3rd owner? P

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for District of Columbia on
Answered on Dec 4, 2018
Richard Sternberg's answer
All owners have to agree to a sale unless a court orders sale in lieu of partition. That petition is, however, fairly straightforward in the hands of experienced counsel.

Q: I got a copy of my grandmas will from courthouse. Is it possible there's another will?

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Virginia on
Answered on Dec 3, 2018
Richard Sternberg's answer
I wouldn’t be a bad idea to retain Virginia counsel to review the Inventory and First Account, but investment accounts with designated beneficiaries generally pass outside the Will and the probate estate. So, if you are not listed as a beneficiary of those accounts, the Will may not matter in those distributions.

Q: Can a condo HOA restrict the sales of condos to investors? We have 94 units; at least 36 are rentals. How to stop more?

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Answered on Dec 1, 2018
Richard Sternberg's answer
You need to start with a review of the recorded Declarations and the history of the Bylaws, You need to compare them with the statutory framework, and, in any event, you won’t be able to impair any current owner’s present rights without their consent.

Q: Am I liable for a mortgage if I did not fill out the loan application but am on the deed?

3 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on
Answered on Nov 30, 2018
Richard Sternberg's answer
If your signature appears on the Note and the Deed of Trust, you are liable. If that signature was a forgery, you need to deal with that. Ignoring it while knowing about it, particularly between spouses or ex-spouses, might act as apparent authority or ratification. If you let it stand, it could become your signature retroactively.

Q: The officers of my HOA claim they are the Board of Directors despite never having been elected.

2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law, Civil Litigation and Land Use & Zoning for Virginia on
Answered on Nov 16, 2018
Richard Sternberg's answer
Virginia Law has soecific requirements for the creation and recordation of a condominium association or homeowners association. It is highly unlikely that the situation you describe is factually accurate. Get a lawyer to run a title search and read the Declarations, which are required to be published to you before your contract to buy your property was final and binding. If your neighborhood association pre-existed the homeowners association laws, which is common in the Washington metro area...

Q: Can a private individual own a state road?

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law and Land Use & Zoning for Virginia on
Answered on Nov 13, 2018
Richard Sternberg's answer
It is possible for a private individual to own the land on which a right of way is given to another. Many jurisdictions prohibit creating and selling parcels that are “landlocked,” but it sounds like yours isn’t. Often, though, the neighbor’s claimed rights don’t match the recorded rights. The next step is to get a title search and a survey, and then have a lawyer read them.

Q: if you are joint owner in a property with your spouse can he sell your property without your consent?

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Virginia on
Answered on Nov 12, 2018
Richard Sternberg's answer
No. Your signature is needed on the deed.

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